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Reviews Categories | Microphones for ham radio | Heil USBQ Help

Reviews Summary for Heil USBQ
Heil USBQ Reviews: 2 Average rating: 4.5/5 MSRP: $90.00
Description: The Heil USBQ brings professional quality, low noise microphone pre
amplification complete with two band shelving equalization, on-board
headphone amplifier and D/A converter in a compact, portable package.

Not just an adapter, but a true single channel mic pre amp complete with
balanced XLR input mic level, switchable phantom power, Bass and Treble
controls and adjustable headphone output level. The Heil USBQ is ideal for
professional recording, commercial broadcasts and communicating over
the internet. No batteries, just plug into USB and enjoy.
Product is in production.
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KB8ASO Rating: 4/5 Nov 16, 2014 17:39 Send this review to a friend
Updated 2nd review  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
I have been doing some research into the USBQ as I was having issues with low audio on non-Heil dynamic mikes that I currently own. I first looked at the Heil website and found that the Heil dynamic mikes have an output of the following:

PR-30 -51 dB @ 1 kHz
pr-40 -53.9 dB @ 1 kHz
pr-781 -55 dB @ 1 kHz
HM-12 -55 dB @ 1,000 Hz
PR-35 -52.9 dB @ 1 kHz
PR-10 -55 dB @ 1,000 Hz
Gold Elite -55 dB @ 1,000 Hz
PR22 -55 dB @ 1 kHz
Handi Mike -52 dB @ 1 kHz

Then I looked at other successful and unsuccessful reviews and found the persons satisfied with the USBQ had mike gains in the
-56 db or higher range. Persons having issues were using mikes with lower outputs. Mine was @ -61 dB. I asked Bob Heil to update his USBQ manual to reflect this fact. If this info was available I would have known what the problem was and would have avoided a negative review. As of the date of this review the specs of the USBQ has not been updated with this fact.

From the user manual:
USBQ Specifications:
Output Connection XLR to USB
Frequency Range 20 Hz - 22 kHz
Treble + or - 12 dB (center at 8 kHz)
Bass + or - 12 dB (center at 80 Hz)

The USBQ is a unique product in that it has built in equalization. The case is rugged and the aluminum case provides good shielding of the unit from hum and RF. The only thing I would say is potentially fragile are the control wheels. The are plastic and thin, but this is not unreasonable nor of poor quality in pots of this size. Don't just throw the USBQ in your laptop bag, instead place the USBQ back in its box with the controls facing down into the foam for protection.

So if you are using the USBQ and a Heil microphone or have a Mike that has an output of -55 dB, the USBQ should work well for you. If your microphone has an output of lower than -55 dB you may need to add an external microphone preamp to use USBQ. At -61 dB my microphones output was definitely too low for the USBQ alone.

K6LCS Rating: 5/5 Nov 3, 2014 09:53 Send this review to a friend
An Inline Preamp - With EQ!  Time owned: more than 12 months
The wonderful mind of Bob Heil has produced the “Heil USBQ” - an inline microphone pre-amplifier. “Why?” one might ask, since Shure, BlueMic, CEntrance, MXL and others already produce inline mic preamps. The USBQ has something none of the others have ...

The USBQ inline unit is not meant to replace your digital audio workstation. But if you are a podcaster ... or in the field without AC power ... or if you’re really on a tight budget at the moment - then the format and features of the USBQ are very desirable.

SO ... What does the Heil USBQ offer that the other current inline mic preamps don’t? EQualization! You have +/- 12dB at both 80 Hz and 10k Hz - adjustable with thumbwheel controls.

Physically, the Heil USBQ is five inches overall in length and one inch in diameter. Solid, aluminum housing. Four thumbwheel dials along one side for headset volume, high and low EQ, and mic gain. Also on that side is a multi-color LED, which is red when attached to and powered by your computer’s USB port - and the LED turns blue if you engage phantom power. 3-pin balanced XLR female at one end. The other end has a 3.5mm 3-conductor headphone/earpiece monitoring jack, USB Mini-B jack, and a tiny pushbutton switch to activate 48VDC phantom power.

First impressions/notes ...

1. Sturdy aluminum housing, anodized purple.

2. Quality 3-pin XLR female jack, firmly secured to the end of the housing

3. No way to accidentally actuate the 48V phantom power switch - it is a tiny button, and not a slide switch. You really have to "want" to actuate it. Great design.

4. Did I mention that it is purple?

5. Mini-B USB jack - all three of the cords I used (and one is included in the USBQ’s box) fit firmly in its Mini-USB jack - unlike a few problematic jacks on other devices I have run in to that are not as tight a fit. All is secure here.

6. What sets the Heil USBQ far apart from other inline mic preamps (like the Blue Mic Icicle*, MXL MicMate*, CEntrance MicPortPRO*, and Shure RPM626* / X2u*) is its built-in equalization.

7. You have +/- 12db of bass equalization down at 80 hertz.

8. You have +/- 12db of treble equalization at 10K hertz.

9. The center of the EQ dials are scored with a white line at the mid/zero point.

10. Also on the end is a 3.5m 3-conductor jack - for realtime monitoring with earpieces or headphones. Its gain/volume control is the closest one to that end - logical.

11. The unit provides up to 40db gain, adjustable with the thumbwheel GAIN control.

I have informally tested my USBQ on a 17” MacBook Pro (Mac OS 10.6.8 Snow Leopard) using Skype, Garage Band and Audacity. The MacBook Pro and the programs “sensed” the USBQ as an input device without a hitch. For whatever reason, programs “sensed” the USBQ as an audio output device, too - but that is not a problem, as most users will be at the “Preferences” or “Audio Setup” screens to see levels and make adjustments.

I also plugged the USBQ into a Win98 netbook (2GB RAM, dual-boot system, also with Ubuntu Linux 12.04). And all was “plug and play” there, too, under both Windows and Ubuntu - as Audacity, Skype, and a couple recording apps “saw” the USBQ. Same quirk with the USBQ being “sensed” as an audio output device here, too. But, as before, not a problem.

For mics to test, I used my Heil PR40, Sennheiser MD46, and Heil HM12. For a condenser to test out the phantom power capability of the USBQ, I used a Behringer C1.

I also used not only the included cable, but a longer (3-foot) one - just to see if I could introduce undesired electrical noise into my test recordings. I also used the computers both plugged into AC and just on battery power - to see if there were differences in the results.

Through all the testing, there was no “scratchiness” from the thumbwheel controls while adjusting. Maybe not an important point - since once you get all set, you’ll leave them alone. I just mention this because I *was* listening for any such noise.

Although I have seen videos of podcasters using these devices plugged directly into their microphones, that sure isn’t how I think of using them. I want it closer to my computer or recorder ... and do not want to extend the length of a mic by plugging it in directly.

With all my configurations of mic / computer power source / audio program that I threw at the USBQ, the results were all supportive of what Heil claims:

“The Heil USBQ brings professional quality, low-noise microphone preamplification - complete with two-band shelving equalization, on-board headphone amplifier, and D/A converter in a compact, portable, cool-looking package ... “

In my home office voice recording/VOIP setup, I have been using a PreSonus TubePre (with Tung-Sol 12AX7 tube). Using the PR40, I have been told that I sound fine - and I have never desired any EQ from my preamp. But even without a need for EQ, I sure see a need for the USBQ for field recording: I can “re-create” the slight warmness I achieve with the TubePre/Tung-Sol unit by just bumping up the USBQ’s 80Hz EQ a touch.

Unit comes in cardboard, windowed box, with features printed on the back. Also ships with Mini-USB - to - USB cable.

Clint Bradford K6LCS
Jurupa Valley, CA

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